Hugh Pickens writes: "The Washington Post reports that Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) have introduced legislation that would require buyers to present identification when purchasing a prepaid cellphone and require phone companies to keep the information on file, as they do with users of landline phones and subscription-based cellphones. "This proposal is overdue because for years, terrorists, drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law by using prepaid phones that are hard to trace," says Schumer. Civil liberties advocates have concerns about the proposal, saying there must be a role for anonymous communications in a free society adding that the space for such anonymous or pseudonymous communications has been narrowed since pay phones, for example, have largely disappeared. "They remain important for whistleblowers, battered spouses, reporters' sources," says James X. Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology. "I think everybody would admit in a free society there is a need for some ability to communicate without creating a full digital paper trail," Dempsey says. "We're just saying this proposal has to be considered in a broader context.""
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